Sunday 27 June 2021

Evulse - Pustulant Spawn EP

Labels: Dawnbreed Records/Transylvanian Recordings/Godz Ov War Productions

Formats: Tape/Digital/CD

Release Date: 04 Sep 2020


1. Repulsive Infestation

2. Pustulant Spawn

3. Depraved Sanctity

4. Worms Made Flesh

There's currently a tsunami of death metal ravaging the underground. As cheesy as that opening line sounds, it's pretty accurate given how many death metal bands are reaching people's ears. We're experiencing it in the UK with bands including Slimelord, Celestial Sanctuary, Mortuary Spawn etc; while the US is constantly producing bands is large quantities. California's Evulse are a new name to me but they've been around since 2018, when they released their first demo/ep Call Of The Void. It was released on multiple formats by Dawnbreed Records (vinyl), Transylvanian Recordings (tape/digital) and Godz Ov War Productions (cd/digital). 

In September of last year, Evulse joined forces with Dawnbreed Records and Transylvanian Recordings again to release their latest EP Pustulant Spawn on tape and digitally, while in February just gone they released a cd version, once again with Godz Ov War Productions. Those that make up Evulse are no slouches when it comes to extreme metal either, as they currently play or have played in a list of bands as long as your arm!

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was some kind of gore-death release and given it’s title, that’s understandable but what Evulse actually gives you is a nasty old-school slab of death metal with grinding tendencies on EP opener ‘Repulsive Infestation’. The instrumentation looms large, especially the guitars, while the growling vocals have that raspy lower-register sound that’s at home alongside the bass/drum work. The title-track ‘Pustulant Spawn’ comes at you with immediate force. It’s a short song but there’s no skimping on musicality as the metallic lead riffs show later on. There is a doom-like edge to it as well, adding more of a murky atmosphere.

The second half of the EP is very much more blink-and-you’ll-miss-it. ‘Depraved Sanctity’ plays on Evulse’s grinding intensity a heap more, with higher tempos and driving percussion. The bass and guitars are tuned down yet there’s room for some screeching riffs and an undercurrent of melody too. An ear worm if ever there was one. Talking of worms, EP closer ‘Worms Made Flesh’ winds things up with an evil flair that’s impossible to ignore. Gathering up all of Evulse’s song-writing elements and strengths, it shows exactly what they’re about in a very precise way.

As far as death metal goes, this is definitely a memorable release. It remains to be seen whether the genre will become over-saturated again but until that point, Evulse and others will continue to grow and on this evidence that can only be a good thing!

You can stream and purchase Pustulant Spawn digitally via Godz Ov War Productions below:-

Evulse -

Physical copies can be purchased from the labels below:-

Dawnbreed Records (tapes) -

Transylvanian Recordings (tapes) -

Godz Ov War Productions (cds) -

Dawnbreed Records -

Transylvanian Recordings -

Godz Ov War Productions -

Thursday 24 June 2021

Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket/They Sleep We Live - Split 7"

Labels: Blood Of The Young Records/Dingleberry Records & Distribution/(We Built The World And) Miss The Stars Records/Pike Records/Tief In Marcellos Schuld Records/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 06 Apr 2016


1. Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket - Alla Vågar Leder Både Bort Och Hem

2. Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket - Jag Vet Att Det Gör Ont, Men Varför Gör Det Sa Javla Ont?

3. They Sleep We Live - And The Curtain Falls

Here goes another ZBR roster review. I've hit a little seam of 7" releases, so I'm going to fire them out over the next seven days or so in a bid to catch up (a bit). This one features a split release that includes Sweden's Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket and Germany's They Sleep We Live; both of whom may be familiar to you if you've been following this little series. Right now, it's a retrospective look at ZBR's releases. This 7" was released in April 2016 via a whole host of like-minded labels (all listed above) and was pressed on 500 copies of orange wax.

This split comprises of two songs from Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket and one from They Sleep We Live. Vi Som.. begins with ‘Alla Vågar Leder Både Bort Och Hem’, which is delivered in their typical melodic yet intense style with guitars that tower over the recording, while the vocals are screamed with such emotive force. The bass and percussion provide direction and authority too, in a song that barely lasts over two minutes. There’s nothing about it that could be considered emoviolence (it probably wasn’t intended to be such) but there’s still so much energy here. Second song ‘Jag Vet Att Det Gör Ont, Men Varför Gör Det Sa Javla Ont?’ Is more majestic thanks to a slightly more mid-paced, stripped down approach during the verses (I guess?), though they’re followed by sections of both grandeur and introspection. Vi Som… certainly craft an atmosphere that’s worth getting lost in.

The other side of the split is kept solely for They Sleep We Live and their song ‘And The Curtain Falls’. It’s a very apt title as organ joins guitar for a very dramatic intro, before the band’s fast screamo takes over. Their ability to write songs that are so engaging never fails to impress, given their lengths and they still remind me of the best genre exports to come from Japan. Germany has always been a country of interest when it comes to screamo/hardcore, in-spite of it’s more commonly known love of cheesy power metal or industrial and They Sleep We Live prove why that is here.

I find that screamo/post-hardcore bands are always really adept at writing and performing songs that seem to outrun their playing time (in the best possible way). The 7” format is one that doesn’t lend itself to longer songs yet both Vi Som… and They Sleep We Live manage to give much more bang for the buck. I’d recommend that you track this release down if it’s still available.

You can stream and purchase the split digitally below:-

Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket -

They Sleep We Live -

Physical copies are still available from the labels below:-

Miss The Stars Records -

Pike Records -

Zegema Beach Records (CAN/INTL) -

Zegema Beach Records (USA) -

Blood Of The Young Records & Press -

Dingleberry Records & Distribution -

Miss The Stars Records -

Pike Records -

Tief In Marcellos Schuld Records -

Zegema Beach Records -

Monday 21 June 2021

Counterpunch - Handbook For The Recently Debriefed 7"

Labels: SBÄM Records/Thousand Islands Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 29 Jan 2021


1. Handbook For The Recently Debriefed

2. We, The Role

When I'm not listening to or writing about all manner of heavy music, I'm either watching The Simpsons, playing Football Manager or listening to punk. I found my way to heavier music through it, mainly thanks to pop-punk bands in the early 00's such as Blink-182, New Found Glory and pretty much anything else that Drive-Thru Records touched. Melody was key at that time and I still go in search of it today, which is where Chicago's Counterpunch come in. They released a little two-song 7" back in January but because I'm behind on my discovering, this is the first opportunity I've had to sit down and listen to it. It was released back in January on three different vinyl variants by Austrian label SBÄM Records (for Europe) and Canadian/US label Thousand Islands Records (for CAN/US).

This 7” doesn’t even breach the five-minute mark, so it’s a brief but high-octane return for Counterpunch, who previously hadn’t released anything since their 2014 album Bruises. The 7”s title-track ‘Handbook For The Recently Debriefed’ sounds like Millencolin jamming with NOFX and Hot Water Music. It’s a proper sing-along punk song with breakneck percussion and big, upbeat riffs.

Second song ‘We, The Role’ follows the same formula. The vocal harmonies are perfect and the whole thing reminds of when I was a teenager, trying to graduate from inline skates to a skateboard (and doing very badly at it!). Like falling over and scraping your knees, this little EP is infectious from start to end. 

It’s over in a flash but it’s worth it. Handbook For The Recently Debriefed is the best way to wet your appetite  (because rumour has it, there’s a fresh record on the way). 

You can stream and purchase the 7" digitally below:-

Counterpunch -

Physical vinyl copies can be purchased from the labels below:-

SBÄM Records -

Thousand Islands Records -

SBÄM Records -

Thousand Islands Records -

Sunday 20 June 2021

Vampirska/Glemt - By Sanguinarian Will... Split

Labels: Inferna Profundus Records/Azure Graal

Formats: Vinyl/Digital/Tape

Release Date: 18 Jan 2021

1. Vampirska - A Curse Bearing The Nocturnal Plague I

2. Vampirska - A Curse Bearing The Nocturnal Plague II

3. Vampirska - A Curse Bearing The Nocturnal Plague III

4. Glemt - Chambers Of Burning Malice

5. Glemt - Convulsing Phantasms Of Mine Lacerations

6. Glemt - Bastille Visions Of What Is To Come

7. Glemt - Forever Wandering Through Jacobean Hallways

8. Glemt - The Moon Weeps Blood And Bestows The Truth I Seek

9. Glemt - Belas Knap In The Lust Of Night

Delving back into the review schedule I put together this time last week, I've been taken down a path that's led me to a US/UK raw black metal split. It was released initially in very late December 2020 on tape via Swedish label Azure Graal, before being released on vinyl and digital formats via Lithuanian label Inferna Profundus Records in January 2021. For a bit of background into both bands; Vampirska is a mysterious entity that's released a demo, a full-length and four splits since 2019, while Glemt is a solo-project that formed around the same time and has so far released a huge amount of music, including four demos, four splits, an EP and a comp (all info is according to Metal Archives). Vampirska's side here features three songs while Glemt contributes six.

When I read the description for this split and it mentioned raw black metal, I wasn’t expecting it to be as raw as it is to be honest. It opens with a trio of songs from USBM band Vampirska and ‘A Curse Bearing The Nocturnal Plague I’ is an odd one because while it’s bathed in noise, muddied percussion and piercing screams, it’s also got riffs that are melodic and somewhat upbeat nestling in the mix. On initial listen it is quite a challenge to the senses but it’s more than worth persevering with. Vampirska’s songs tend to be on the lengthier side but as a result they can also be quite hypnotic, as demonstrated in the band’s opener. ‘A Curse Bearing The Nocturnal Plague II’ is no different, although there are changing tempos strategically placed within it to prevent it from becoming too trance inducing. 

By the time the third song in Vampirska’s trilogy comes round, you’ll have decided whether of not you want to continue, unless of course your a devoted fan of the rawest and most lo-fi black metal. ‘A Curse Bearing The Nocturnal Plague III’ contains the most chaotic and disdainful vocals of the three, which I think gives you a glimpse into the darker realms of the band for sure. Despite it maybe not coming across as such above, I’ve enjoyed Vampirska’s side of this split. It’s not an easy listen but black metal like this shouldn’t be.

Moving back across to the UK now and solo black metal band Glemt provides a somewhat shamanistic and depressive take on the genre. ‘Chambers Of Burning Malice’ is the first of six songs from the band here and it certainly lives up to the title. Haunting, orchestral and maybe slightly more typical of black metal going back to it’s roots. ‘Convulsing Phantasms Of Mine Lacerations’ is more stripped back, relying solely on the more traditional drum/bass/guitar/vocal approach, with less of the orchestral additions. Speaking of the vocals, they’re much more tortured here, even more so than Vampirska’s to my ears.

Glemt’s longest song comes in the form of ‘Bastille Visions Of What Is To Come’ and even with that extended playing time, the music is still no easier to take in. Atmospheric in terms of the stark visions it creates in your mind, there’s no room for weakness at all. For a sub-genre that’s seemingly so simple, it’s anything but. When more subtle ambient instrumentation is allowed to show through, it is beautiful though. 

There’s a brief moment of relative calm thanks to the instrumental piece ‘Forever Wandering Through Jacobean Hallways’, which does provide your head with a rest of sorts before Glemt’s penultimate song ‘The Moon Weeps Blood And Bestows The Truth I Seek’. It’s a slower crawl this one, with a tempo that’s slightly tempered back. The structure of the song is also a little more traditional, in the sense that it contains a nice  introspective mid-section that breaks things up a bit too. I’m going to go as far as to say it’s my favourite song on the entire split.

Glemt’s final song and the split’s closer ‘Belas Knap In The Lust Of Night’ is once again a very ambient piece. It’s a peaceful listen and helps to round out an album that’s definitely a journey in sound. It’s one that is hard at times yet there is still beauty to it. Maybe only one for the die-hard black metal listeners but I have a feeling it’s going to lead down a whole new rabbit hole for those brave enough to commit.

You can stream and purchase By Sanguinarian Will... digitally below:-

Vampirska -

Glemt - /

Tape versions are completely sold out via Azure Graal, while it's the same for vinyl copies from Inferna Profundus Records. 

Azure Graal -

Inferna Profundus Records -

Friday 11 June 2021

Alarms & Controls/Secret Smoker - Split 7"

Labels: Protagonist Music/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 10 Mar 2015


1. Alarms & Controls - Mama's Sweet Ride

2. Alarms & Controls - Flood Plane

3. Secret Smoker - Every Moment All At Once

4. Secret Smoker - Sun Eaters

I've had this review in my back pocket for a little while and planned to post its up sooner, but here we are. The next few in this little series should come at you a bit faster. That series of course is my Zegema Beach Records (ZBR) roster review series, which I've been trying (and failing) to publish once a week. This is the first of a few 7" reviews, hence why I'm more optimistic about my own intentions to write more. Anyway, this split was released in early 2015 via both Protagonist Music and ZBR, and features two US post-punk/emo/post-hardcore bands called Alarms & Controls and Secret Smoker. I think 300 copies were pressed on clear orange vinyl.

It’s another sticky evening tonight and my energy is waning, let’s hope this restores some of it. I have to say that Alarms & Controls are totally not what I was expecting. Their jazz/funk/rock n roll approach here is definitely refreshing and there’s some math-rock flourishes going on during ‘Mama’s Sweet Ride’, which opens this split. It proves that you shouldn’t pigeonhole labels or expect certain sounds. Their second song ‘Flood Plane’ features clean singing once again and has a strange Lynyrd Skynyrd feel to it. The instrumentation is really clean and clear, while the vocal melodies are where their post-punk influence starts to show. It’s both upbeat and downbeat at the same time. Still good though!

On the flip side, Secret Smoker take on a sound that’s very much more old-school emo/screamo on their first song ‘Every Moment All At Once’. It has a rawness that you’d expect from a band of their ilk and as such, the vocals sit deeper within the mix, while the instrumentation looms over the top. The guitars are melodic and the drums are really prominent. I’m gonna be predictable here and say that this was what I was expecting from this split. Their second song ‘Sun Eaters’ is more on the atmospheric and introspective side, with the lengthy instrumental intro leading another heart-on-your-sleeve number. Plenty of emotion and a solid 90s feel. 

This is very much a split of two sides (unsurprisingly!) yet both bands compliment each other super well, instead of merely doing the same thing. Going back and discovering releases like this is the reason I’m still pressing on and committing time to this series. This split is great and illustrates exactly why the 7” vinyl format is such a great day to discover new bands or to reach more varied audiences. 

You can stream and download the split digitally from ZBR here:-

It's also available from Protagonist Music digitally here -

I've been unable to find any live social media accounts for either band.

Copies of this split are still available in physical form from the labels below:-

Deathwish Inc (Protagonist Store) -


Protagonist Music -

Zegema Beach Records -

Tuesday 8 June 2021

Iceburn - Asclepius

Labels: Southern Lord

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 25 Jun 2021


1. Healing The Ouroboros

2. Dahlia Rides The Firebird

I may have got a little excited when I saw this sitting in my inbox this evening. I've been really intrigued by Iceburn ever since I picked up a copy of Hephaestus from a local record shop here in North Yorkshire (of all places) a few years ago. It was a blind buy at the time, except for the fact that it had the Revelation Records logo on it's sleeve. On listening to it, I realised that it was nothing like any other Revelation release I had heard (maybe I've not heard many, I don't know!) and since then I've promised myself I'd seek out more of their music, while also being a little nervous about doing so. Asclepius is the band's first new music in about twenty years and it's found the perfect home on Southern Lord. Intelligent, progressive, ever-shifting music has been the bedrock of this educated collective (maybe that's why I've been nervous) and when you consider that the album is named after the Greek god of medicine/healing, it becomes clear that this was meant to be.

I must clarify something about the above, lengthy paragraph; I’m not nervous about this because I see myself as being intellectually inferior but because I may not have the words to fully do this release justice. We’ll see...

Asclepius is made up of two long tracks, so it’s not about instant relief. ‘Healing The Ouroboros’ begins with guitar work that reminds me of the song ‘Brando’ that Scott Walker and Sunn 0))) released as part of their collaborative album Soused, before Iceburn veers off in a more sludgy/trad-doom direction, which is more akin to sister band Eagle Twin. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that the music keeps you guessing with experimentalism in abundance. That said, and doing a complete 180 degree turn apparently, this is way groovier than I was expecting it to be. Not complaining one bit though, as it seems totally right for a warm and muggy English Monday evening.

The feedback that kicks off second song ‘Dahlia Rides The Firebird’ is the aural equivalent of a sign saying ‘hey, we like rocking’, which is exactly what Iceburn does all the way through this record. Even if it’s not the kind of rocking you can dance or bounce to, it will satisfy you. The main thing that will keep you hooked here is the constant riffs that take the lead throughout. They tend to sit atop of the recording, while the bass and percussion provide the much needed low-end. The vocals are delivered sparingly and without pretence or showy-ness. This album is definitely one that’s accessible for those willing to give it a chance.

To sum this album up after only a couple fo listens is difficult. I’ll go with the less is more approach and just say that it’s really good. You can do the rest…

You can watch preview videos of both song's via Iceburn's bandcamp page here -

Asclepius is also up for physical/digital pre-order there too.

Iceburn -

Southern Lord -

Sunday 6 June 2021

The Owl - Beyond The Vastness Of Infinity

Labels: Self-Released

Formats - CD (hopefully)/Digital

Release Date: 02 Jul 2021


1. Paracosmic Expansion

2. Luminous Stellar Explosions

3. Transcending New Heights

4. Hymn For Laniakea

5. Pōwehi

I've spent part of this morning putting together a small review schedule for the coming week, which will hopefully grow a bit bigger in time for my up-coming week off in mid-June. Also, I'm due to have my first Covid jab next Saturday, so depending on side-effects I might not be heading out as much, which should give me more time to write. It's time to focus on the task in hand through and this soon-to-be-released record from the ever-prolific noisemaker The Owl. Beyond The Vastness of Infinity will be self-released by The Owl in July and it continues the momentum built by previous releases Odyssey One, Hibernation and Further Into The Vastness. This time you're treated to five live and improvisational bass jams with the entity's usual layered effects and drone/doom forays. 

Starting with a spoken word sample featuring Alan Watts, it doesn’t take you long to realise what mood The Owl is trying to portray here. ‘Paracosmic Expansion’ is a simple yet mind-expanding opener thanks to that sampled speech and your senses are indeed awoken by the rumbling bass, and subtle ambience present.

From there you’re immediately shocked into life by ‘Luminous Stellar Explosions’, which is where the improvised bass really takes over. Encased in white-noise/feedback that buzzes alongside it, the hypnotic elements of the song begin to open up. When that noise dissipates later on, you’re left feeling calmer though noisier heights are just around the corner and sure enough, the loud/quiet/loud dynamic comes full-circle and the volume level increases. It’s worth noting that there is no percussion on this release (I hope that’s correct), so any rhythms that can be heard come directly from the bass.

Momentum continues to be strong on this release because each song flows Into the next without a pause. ‘Transcending New Heights’ is the longest song here at over nine minutes; however, compared to ‘Luminous Stellar Explosions’ before it, it’s a lot calmer and meditative. Once again low rumbling bass is the backbone and branching off it is very subtle, sometimes distant melody. Not even my neighbour (annoyingly) drilling or planing in their flat can detract from my listening pleasure.

Penultimate song ‘Hymn Of Laniakea’ begins very quietly indeed before bursting into life with another shock of crashing bass guitar. You can hear the live sound of this release more clearly here than anywhere else and it definitely adds to the album’s organic charm and feel. We all have creativity within us, but some people are better at using it than others. The Owl’s productivity and vision is a prime example of that (now, will there ever be a full collaborative release with Oathbreaker I wonder?!).

Finally, album closer Pōwehi is a throbbing, rhythmic beast that’s filled with short waves of sound that increase and decrease in very quick succession, leading to a low-end collage of maddening sounds, glitches and just generally hellish bass. This album for me sits in between both the light/ambient and harsh noise ends of the genre spectrum, so if you’re new to this type of music then hopefully you’ll find this to be a good route in. The balance of both of those dynamics make it a really enjoyable listen.

Keep you eyes peeled for news on the release of Beyond The Vastness Of Infinity via The Owl's social media page here -

Also, make sure you go to The Owl's bandcamp page, where you can listen to all of the band's releases to date and new ones as they are released -

Friday 4 June 2021

Astarium - Growths Of The Past

Labels: Self-Released/Swollen Gargantuan Fecal Fetus/NitroAtmosfericum Records

Formats: CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 01 Jan 2020


1. I

2. II

3. III

4. IV

5. V

6. VI

7. VII


9. IX (Varg Vikernes Cover)

10. X

11. XI

12. XIII

The brain is a weird thing. I'm craving some heavy, violent music yet I feel that something a little lighter would probably be better right now. I'm going to put a new schedule together soon to focus a bit more, but this evening I'm going down a familiar path with another album from Russian symphonic/ambient black metal band Astarium. Growths Of The Past is an instrumental, ambient album from last year, which contains a number of reworked songs that didn't make the cut on other albums. It was kindly sent to me by sole member SiN and the cd version I have contains twelve songs. It was self-released by Astarium in January 2020, before being released on cd via the awesomely titled US label Swollen Gargantuan Fecal Fetus during the same month. Later on in 2020, it was released on both tape and cd by longtime conspirators NitroAtmosfericum Records. 

None of the songs here have conventional titles, so bare with me. Growths Of The Past is purely ambient and instrumental, which shows the other side of Astarium and much like the cover art above, album opener ‘I’ is remarkably cosmic in it’s delivery. The band’s trademark melodic synths working wonders during it’s short playing time. ‘II’ is much more minimalist at first, but it’s definitely the sort of music you’d expect to hear if you were floating through the galaxy. You sometimes get those videos online where people claim to have captured the sounds of space and sometimes they sound like this. I’m not sure if that’s what SiN was going for here but it works really well all the same.

‘III’ definitely sounds like some kind of retro video game/fantasy/dungeon synth mash-up and it’s glorious. I’m not even into dungeon synth either, so am probably way off the mark. This album is way more entertaining than it should be, in the best possible way too. ‘IV’ is indescribable for me but those odd bleep-like noises are spellbinding, which is probably a weird notion I guess, but it’s true.’ V’ is more of a traditional ambient number from Astarium, especially if you’re familiar with the band’s black metal leaning music. It still has the fantasy edge of the previous songs here but it sounds more serious to me. It’s certainly more dramatic and orchestral.

The first real percussion-like textures can be heard on ‘VI’, which is another very minimalist song. In fact, it’s the longest song the album (unless you count the near nineteen-minute untitled track that’s listed on Metal Archives). It’s very relaxing because of that minimalism, with its almost laid-back hip hop beats. ‘VII’ is a very different beast with the strings/synths taking the lead throughout and just a subtle undercurrent of what could be considered dance/trance music in the background (maybe?) minus the beats this time.

‘VIII’ is another one of those songs that sounds like it’s being led by a xylophone or a glockenspiel, with the bubbly kind of sound that’s super relaxing throughout it’s short playing time. In fact, the rest of Growths Of The Past goes by rather quickly. ‘IX’ (a Varg Vikernes cover apparently) is a sub two-minute ambient piece made entirely out of Astarium’s more traditional synths. Again it’s orchestral but more upbeat too. SiN delves back into the video-game synth realm on ‘X’. The organ-like sound is quite beguiling when it’s in full flow. 

The penultimate song on the album is once again a world away from Astarium’s atmospheric black metal. ‘XI’ is filled with that dance-vibe without being an actual dance track, which in my opinion makes it a lot better. It’s instrumental layers are perfect and really upbeat making it very euphoric to listen to. The twelfth and final song here ‘XII’ is very brief just like the opener and it’s a nice way to close everything out. Really well thought out and performed throughout. 

I have to say that from somebody who is probably more familiar with heavier, more dissonant music, especially when it comes to Astarium’s black metal releases, Growths Of The Paths is a side to SiN’s music that I really enjoy. I consider myself surprised and also ashamed that I left it so long before writing this review. Great job! Hopefully more people will pay this album the attention it deserves. 

You can stream and purchase the full album digitally below:-

I don 't know if there are any physical copies left of this album (after searching) but you can reach out to Astarium and/or NitroAtmosfericum Records below to find out:-

Astarium -

NitroAtmosfericum Records -